16 Feb

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

Kremlin denies ‘unfounded accusations’ over airstrikes as Turkey accuses Moscow of ‘behaving like a terrorist organisation’

Debris at a medical facility in Maaret al-Numan that was bombed on Monday

Médecins Sans Frontières said seven people were killed when a facility it supports in Maaret al-Numan, Idlib province, was hit four times in two separate raids. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Russia has strongly rejected accusations of war crimes after dozens of people were killed in strikes on medical facilities and schools in rebel-controlled areas of Syria on Monday.

“We categorically do not accept such statements, the more so as every time those making these statements are unable to prove their unfounded accusations in any way,” a spokesman for Vladimir Putin said.

France, Turkey and western diplomats have all said the strikes on two locations by forces supporting Bashar al-Assad amount to war crimes.

Turkey’s foreign ministry accused Russia of carrying out an “obvious war crime” and warned that bigger and more serious consequences would be inevitable if Russia did not immediately end such attacks.

Turkey’s prime minister, Ahmet Davuto?lu, said: “If Russia continues behaving like a terrorist organisation and forcing civilians to flee, we will deliver an extremely decisive response.”

France was less forthright in its language. The foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, said the attacks “could constitute war crimes”, adding: “Attacks against health facilities in Syria by the regime or its supporters are unacceptable and must stop immediately.”

The violence risks drawing Turkey further into the conflict. Alarmed by Kurdish expansion near its border, Ankara on Tuesday called on its coalition partners, including the US, to take part in a joint ground operation in Syria to try to end the war…………..

Jaros?aw Kaczy?ski has convinced Poland that it is threatened by a shadowy leftwing cabal – and become the country’s most powerful man

A carnival float depicting the chairman of the Law and Justice party, Jaros?aw Kaczy?ski, oppressing Poland.

A carnival float depicting the chairman of the Law and Justice party, Jaros?aw Kaczy?ski, oppressing Poland. Photograph: Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images

In late January 1993, three years after the abolition of the Soviet-imposed Polish People’s Republic, a crowd of 5,000 demonstrators marched on the Warsaw residence of Lech Wa??sa. As the chairman of Solidarity, the independent trade union and mass opposition movement that negotiated communist Poland’s demise, Wa??sa is widely credited with initiating the chain of events that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and a peaceful resolution to the cold war. But after he became post-communist Poland’s first democratically elected president, his critics circulated rumours that he had been a communist collaborator all along. Chanting “We want a president, not an agent,” the demonstrators burnt the Nobel peace prizewinner in effigy.

Their leaders included a former Solidarity functionary called Jaros?aw Kaczy?ski. Armed with a megaphone, he angrily denounced his former leader: “He was supposed to be our president, but he turned out to be their president, the president of the reds!”

Short, white-haired, and always dressed in black and white, Kaczy?ski is now the most powerful man in Poland. In 2015, the party he founded with his identical twin brother Lech, Law and Justice, won the first parliamentary majority for a single party since the democratic transition; since then, it stands accused of attempting to reverse that transition by seizing control of Poland’s independent democratic institutions. Although Kaczy?ski holds no office other than his seat in parliament and the chairmanship of his party, President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Beata Szyd?o are entirely beholden to his patronage. Law and Justice’s eminence grise – part Yoda, part Karl Lagerfeld – runs a country of almost 40 million people from his party office in central Warsaw…………..

Belgian professor says government has broken the UN convention on human rights by refusing to allow his stepson to stay because of his health

The Leemans family. From left Francoise Duperoux, Professor Dimitri Leemans with children Margaux and Peter.

The Leemans family. From left Francoise Duperoux, Professor Dimitri Leemans with children Margaux and Peter. Photograph: Supplied/Dimitri Leemans

A prestigious Belgian mathematics professor is leaving New Zealand after his autistic stepson was refused residency on health grounds.

Associate professor Dimitri Leemans said Immigration New Zealand had broken the UN convention on human rights by refusing his 13-year-old stepson Peter residency because of the ongoing and future health burden of his autistic condition.

Leemans will not appeal the decision and will return to the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium in July with his family.

“INZ took already 18 months to reject our application and we did not feel like waiting another year for the decision on the appeal,” Leemans said by email.

“I do not see myself raising my children in a country that does not respect the UN convention on human rights.”

Immigration New Zealand said in a statement that Peter was deemed to require “continuous, structured residential care”.

“All migrants are required to have an acceptable standard of health so as not to impose undue costs and/or demands on New Zealand’s health and/or special education services,” the agency said.

“An independent medical assessor carefully considered the family’s submissions but reached the decision that Peter did not have an acceptable standard of health.”…………..


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